President, Missouri State University
Tulane University, B.A. in political science; University of Arkansas, J.D.
A former lawyer and two-time finalist for the Missouri Supreme Court, Clif Smart continues to succeed as Missouri State University’s president. The school has seen fall enrollment increases for seven of the past eight years, notably after Smart took the reins in June 2011. There is no sign of him slowing down, either. The university’s state funding has seen an increase, campus facilities have been updated and tuition increases have been minimal. And, MSU unveiled its next step in it’s funding endeavors. In October 2019 on Homecoming weekend, the university announced Onward, Upward, a historic $250 million capital campaign, headed by alumnus and actor John Goodman. Smart will continue to push until Boomer is top of mind in the state. Read our full story here.
Photo by About Faces
Principal, Baron Design & Associates LLC
Drury College (now Drury University), B.Arch
In the 16 years since Rita Baron founded Baron Design & Associates LLC, her firm’s portfolio touches the medical, financial, government, corporate, university, restaurant and hospitality sectors. This past year, Baron Design & Associates has made major strides in the latter sector by designing SilverLeaf Apartments. The $18.5 million, 153-unit apartment complex is being constructed in Battlefield and features single-car garages, pickleball courts and an outdoor pool. Within her firm and in the community, Baron strives to be a leader. Her advice to others is, “Pick a mentor and become one.” Baron is the first female chair of the Drury University Board of Trustees, vice chair of the board for OakStar Bank and board member for Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
President and Principal Architect, Paragon Architecture
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. in architectural studies, M.Arch
A Chicago native, Brad Erwin moved to Springfield in 2003 and since then, he’s been busy. Erwin currently serves on Forward SGF’s advisory team and was a former chair for The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals. Always focused on the future, Erwin says the best business advice he’s every received is to “Train to become a leader and hire your replacement(s).”
NEW IN 2019: Paragon Architecture worked with more than 10 corporate office clients to build or renovate more than 180,000 square feet of new commercial office space. At the end of the year, the business will be moving into new headquarters in downtown Springfield.
Partner, BRP Architects
Mississippi State University, B.Arch
Tim Rosenbury has been part of the Springfield business community for 34 years and has watched the city grow, gotten involved and honed his leadership skills. Outside of his day job, Rosenbury serves on the Springfield Art Museum board and as the president for Springfield Public Schools’ Board of Education.
NEW IN 2019: The company changed its name from Butler, Rosenbury & Partners to BRP Architects, and also completed a management transition. Rosenbury completed several projects, including one with the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Arts & Entertainment
Photo by Alex Soloman
Executive Director, Springfield Little Theatre
Stephens College, B.F.A. in theatre with an emphasis in directing
Celebrating its 85th season this year, Springfield Little Theatre, and the people behind it, know a thing or two about success. The theatre is undergoing a $5 million capital campaign to make improvements to the historic Landers Theater, and leading the charge is Beth Domann. Some of the changes require the theatre to produce plays at different venues. Domann says the whole process calls for thinking outside the box but has led to opportunities like meeting new people. In addition to renovations, the campaign also allowed SLT to purchase the historic McDaniel School, now renamed The Judith Enyeart Reynolds School for the Performing Arts. The project was made possible by a grant funding of $1 million from the C.W. Titus Foundation.
Kyle Wiley Pickett
Music Director and Conductor, Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Topeka Symphony Orchestra
Stanford University, B.A. in music; California State University, M.A. in music; Peabody Conservatory of John Hopkins University, D.M.A. in orchestral conducting
A native of Los Gatos, California, Kyle Wiley Pickett uses the Springfield Symphony Orchestra to instill pride in the community. In one recent project, Pickett interviewed World War II veterans about their experiences, which he then used as a centerpiece for a show. Since then, he’s made an effort to incorporate local stories into performances. “As our community grows, as our country changes, as the world seems to shift underneath us, I am excited that the arts—music, drama, theatre, visual arts—become more necessary and important to us, as a people,” Pickett says.
AUTOMOBILES & TRANSPORTATION
J. Howard Fisk
President, J. Howard Fisk Limousines Inc.
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in business administration, B.S. in marketing and design
The name Fisk has become instantly recognizable in local transportation. J. Howard Fisk, a lifelong 417-lander, has spent more than four decades leading his company and serving on boards of numerous community organizations. He is proudly involved in Sons of the American Revolution and celebrates the life of William Freeman, the only patriot buried in the Springfield National Cemetery.
NEW IN 2019: This year, Fisk was awarded the prestigious Colonel Stewart Boone McCarty, Jr. Award. He received the award from the Sons of the American Revolution, which he is a member of, for furthering the preservation of traditional teaching of United States history in schools.
CFO, J. Howard Fisk Limousines Inc.; General Councilmember, City of Springfield
Lebanon High School
Jan Fisk co-founded J. Howard Fisk Limousines Inc. with her husband. Fisk has been on Springfield City Council since 2012 and was previously mayor pro tem. As a councilmember, she works with Sister Cities as well as on committees for Plans and Policies, Community Involvement, Tourism Funding and Mayor’s Commission for Children.
NEW IN 2019: Fisk became active in the Daughters of the American Revolution society, following her daughter, Hillary—a leader within the organization.
Photo by Kristina Bridges Templeton Courtesy of Ozarks Technical Community College
President, Rick's Automotive
Parkview High School
In 1980, Rick Hughlett and his wife, Karen, opened Rick’s Automotive. After 39 years, Hughlett is preparing for the future by grooming the next generation to lead his company. In his free time, this leader heads to the skies where he enjoys being a commercial hot air balloon pilot.
NEW IN 2019: This year, Hughlett joined some friends in raffling off a 1929 Ford Roadster. Proceeds went to help the team that transports children to Shriners Hospital. The project is called the “Mother Roadster.”
Photo by Brandon Alms
President and Owner, Prime Inc.
Skyline High School
When Robert Low jumped behind the wheel in 1970, little did he know that 49 years later his one-man trucking operation would become a fleet of 7,700 trucks and 13,800 trailers ferrying goods across the country. Prime Inc. has a distinct culture that values responsibility and teamwork, leading to Prime’s recognition as 2019’s Best Fleet to Work For in the large carrier best overall fleet category.
NEW IN 2019: Prime completed construction on a training facility at its Pennsylvania terminal, which is projected to bring in 30 new drivers a week, and spur growth in the Northeast region.
Director of Aviation, Springfield-Branson National Airport
Embry-Riddle University, B.S. in professional aeronautics; University of Central Missouri, M.S. in aviation safety
Brian Weiler got his start in aviation straight out of high school, when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Weiler has since managed airports in three states—Missouri, Florida and Kansas. The Springfield-Branson National Airport has been his home away from home since 2011. Weiler says his team at the airport provides him his best business inspiration. He knows to not take them for granted, as finding skilled employees is a growing concern for many businesses. The best advice he ever received keeps him grounded. “Embrace change and strive for continuous improvement,” he says.
“Embrace change and strive for continuous improvement.“—Brian Weiler, Springfield-Branson National Airport
Chairman and CEO, TransLand
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business administration and economics
Before taking over TransLand, the trucking company founded by his parents, Mark Walker worked in Silicon Valley for SBC Communications. After a 23-year career there, he left to lead United Way Silicon Valley, which he brought back from the brink of bankruptcy. For inspiration, Walker hits the books. A group of leaders at his company discuss a book every month.
NEW IN 2019: Ownership of the business passed from Walker’s parents to Walker and his wife. He also joined the board of directors for the national chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), as well as Central Bank of the Ozarks.
BUSINESS CONSULTING & EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
President, Penmac Staffing Services, Inc.
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in home economics
For Paula Adams, business is a family affair. Adams considers her parents, Patti and Al Penny, to be her biggest mentors. Her mother founded Penmac Staffing in 1988. It was also her mother who implemented Penmac’s motto, “We place people first.” This simple phrase drives everything at Penmac. Adams says the company is dedicated to “finding the right people for the right positions.”
NEW IN 2019: For the fourth consecutive year, Adams was named on the Global Power 150, a list of top women in staffing put out by Staffing Industry Analysts.
“Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working.“—Paula Adams, Penmac Staffing Services Inc.
Photo By Gambles Photography
President and Managing Editor, Unite News Publication
Nixa High School
Samuel Knox is not one to shy away from diversity. In fact, he views it as a driving principle behind success. As the executive director for Minorities in Business and event coordinator for the Springfield Multicultural Festival, he knows we all play a part. “Every leader has strengths and weaknesses, but the smartest leaders recognize their weaknesses and surround themselves with problem solvers,” he says. Knox’s list of community involvement consists of everything from serving on the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board to the Missouri State University President’s Diversity Council. In addition to these roles, Knox is also the co-founder and managing editor of the Unite News Publication.
“Every leader has strengths and weaknesses, but the smartest leaders recognize their weaknesses and surround themselves with problem solvers.“—Samuel Knox, Unite News Publication
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
Senior Advisor, SVN/Rankin Company
Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University), B.S. in finance
As a commercial real estate advisor, Jeff Childs has 25 years of experience. His company focuses on the sale and leasing of property in Springfield and southwest Missouri. In addition to his day-time job, this past year, Childs served as the chairman of the board for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Board for City Utilities of Springfield. Childs believes Springfield is a trailblazer in the Midwest, and is setting an example for others. He is excited to see the growth of the area over the next 20 years.
John F. Griesemer
President and CEO, Erlen Group
Purdue University, B.S. in industrial management and civil engineering
If you ask John Griesemer for business advice, he quotes Biz 100 honoree Robin Robeson: “You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.” Griesemer has followed this advice, as his third-generation family business is thriving fresh off of a rebrand in 2018. The pivot combined Springfield Underground, Westside Stone, Joplin Stone, Cold Zone, Ümlaut Industrial and The Frisco Building under one name: Erlen Group.
NEW IN 2019: In 2019, Springfield Underground opened a Command Center for monitoring the underground and welcoming over-the-road truck drivers—in addition to opening a 328,300-square-foot warehouse.
Debra Shantz Hart
Principal, Housing Plus, LLC; Principal, DHTC Development, LLC
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in economics; University of Missouri–Columbia, J.D.
The simplest business motto lies behind Debra Shantz Hart’s work. “Kindness matters,” she says. It’s hard to dispute that Hart brings this kindness to the table with every project. Recently, the project she has set her sights on is an affordable housing project that will assist foster kids aging out of foster care. The finished project will be called Y Gardens and consist of 41 apartments. Groundbreaking was this year on July 17, and it is expected to be finished by summer 2020. At least eight of those units will be set aside for foster kids who have aged out of the system. The convenient location, across from Ozarks Technical Community College, is also close to Missouri State University, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and public transportation stops.
Chief Mission Officer, The Vecino Group
University of Nevada, Reno, B.A. in English Literature
Stacy Jurado-Miller runs The Vecino Group with her husband, Matt. She says one of her biggest sources of inspiration is Shawn Askinosie who was “willing to walk away from something they’ve been successful at and towards the possibilities that are calling to them.” As a leader, Jurado-Miller recognizes her own missteps, especially when she initially argued against expanding The Vecino Group outside of Missouri.
NEW IN 2019: Rather than being a solo lead developer, this year Jurado-Miller was able to contribute to group Vecino pitches. Collaborating with other members of the company brought her a new perspective.
Photo by Patrick McWhirt
CEO, The Vecino Group
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in political science and Russian area studies
In 1992, Matt Miller took out a loan to rehab a South Avenue building. “I was 24 years old and had nothing to my name but a few ideas,” he says. Now as the CEO of a company billed as being devoted to development for the greater good, he’s returning the favor. “I’m paying it forward by taking chances on folks who show a little moxie and a lot of determination,” he says.
NEW IN 2019: One of Miller’s proudest accomplishments this year was developing his company’s first skyscraper from the ground up. “It’s a deal that took us a year to win and it was a total team effort,” he says.
Matt E. Miller
Owner, Miller Commerce LLC
Kickapoo High School
Since launching Miller Commerce LLC in 2002, Matt E. Miller, who studied finance at Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) now owns and co-owns a portfolio of 22 properties that include apartments, mixed-used buildings, student housing and senior living communities.
NEW IN 2019: Gated senior living community Tera Vera, owned by Miller Commerce and Coryell Collaborative group, announced an expansion this year that will double the size of the 30-unit property along Jefferson Avenue and Sunset Street.
CEO, Springfield Land LP
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business administration; University of Southern California, J.D.
Stephanie Stenger is a powerhouse attorney—just ask Missouri Lawyers Weekly, who recognized her in its 13th Annual Women’s Justice Awards. The President Elect of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association now runs real estate development company Springfield Land LP and is also active in the community—she has served various nonprofit organizations and was a founding board member and former president of Isabel’s House.
NEW IN 2019: Stenger is current board president of Care to Learn, and in 2019 the organization celebrated 10 years in business, during which time it has served more than 1 million student needs.
Owner/Realtor, Murney Associates, Realtors
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in business
Patrick Murney has spent more than two decades in real estate, amassing more than $1.2 billion in personal lifetime real estate sales. “My motivation has always been to give my very best in everything I do,” he says. “I’m very competitive, so my drive comes from wanting to be the best.” As a business owner, Murney keeps clients at the forefront. “I’ve always sought to exceed my clients’ expectations,” he says.
NEW IN 2019: Murney’s company surpassed $1 billion in closed real estate transactions this year alone—the first real estate company to accomplish such a feat in Southwest Missouri.
Managing Director, SVN/Rankin Co. LLC; Owner, Rankin Development LLC
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance
A longtime 417-land resident, Tom Rankin founded Rankin Co., a general commercial real estate brokerage, in 1990. In 2006, the company became affiliated with national brokerage firm SVN and has consistently been among the top 10 most productive SVN offices out of some 200 offices nationwide. Throughout his career, Rankin has developed more than 1,000,000 square feet of retail and industrial projects.
NEW IN 2019: This year Rankin Development LLC is co-developing retail space, including discount store Five Below, in the west side’s Springfield Plaza center.
COMMUNICATIONS & MEDIA
Vice President and General Manager, KYTV/KSPR and The Ozarks CW
Wichita State University, B.A. in business administration
Fresh out of college, Brian McDonough served as a radio account executive. The fishing hobbyist now leads KY3, KSPR 33 and The Ozarks CW networks and digital platforms—including OzarksSportsZone.com, better known as The O-Zone. The concept was a spin-off of a newspaper company McDonough and his wife started in Wichita.
NEW IN 2019: In partnership with United Way of the Ozarks, Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Drury University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership, KY3 launched volunteerozarks.com, a community portal connecting volunteers to nonprofit and charitable organizations in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas.
Mary Beth Hartman
President and Founder, Hunter Chase & Associates Inc.
Executive Vice President, Hartman & Co. Inc.
Republic High School
Hunter Chase & Associates Inc., which Mary Beth Hartman named after her two sons, has specialized in highway, road and streetscape construction since 1996. As a leader, Hartman has not let fear stop her from facing challenges. “To survive, you have to find the best employees and find ways to reduce costs,” she says. “You are in a constant position of finding opportunities where there are few.”
NEW IN 2019: Hartman notes that the industry is experiencing tightening competition, and this year weather delays presented added challenges. Yet, despite these obstacles, Hartman and her team continue to meet important deadlines.
William F. Killian
President and Chair of the Board, Killian Construction
Glendale High School
William “Bill” Killian became president then sole owner of his family’s construction company in 1993. In 2018, the firm—known for its work on Chateau on the Lake, the Branson Landing and hotels and casinos nationwide—started a 22-story, 250-unit condo development in Panama City Beach, Florida. “This project is the first high-rise structure started since the Great Recession on the Florida panhandle,” Killian says.
NEW IN 2019: Two 417-land mega-businesses teamed up this year when Killian Construction joined CoxHealth to construct Cox Medical Center Branson’s $12-million expansion, which includes a new central utility plan for equipment storage and consolidation.
CEO, Larry Snyder & Co.
Missouri Southern State University, B.S. in business marketing and management
Larry Snyder proudly continued a family tradition of working in construction that began with his father, uncles and cousins when he founded Larry Snyder & Co. in 1978. Snyder has steered the general contracting firm through two major economic downturns and a move from Joplin to Branson. The company’s work includes the addition to O’Reilly Auto Parts’ headquarters, Magers Crossing in west Springfield, Boomer Town lofts and many others.
NEW IN 2019: The team at Larry Snyder & Co. kept busy this year constructing major projects like Russell Cellular’s new headquarters, multiple projects with Mercy, Wonderworks in Branson and northside apartment complex Northgate Apartments.
President, Drury University
Emory & Henry College, B.A. in philosophy and political science; University of Massachusetts Amherst, M.A. in political science, Ph.D. in higher education
In 2016, Tim Cloyd stepped in as Drury University’s president and professor of management and political science amidst dropping enrollment and downsizing departments. Fast forward to 2018: Drury experienced an unprecedented fundraising increase of 121 percent during the 2017–2018 fiscal year with more than $20 million raised. The recent reveal of Drury’s new Master Plan, alongside aggressive fundraising and marketing goals, thrilled students and alumni alike.
NEW IN 2019: The 2019–2020 school year featured the launch of Drury Fusion, a new curriculum that combines academic and professional learning with real-world experience and mentorship for a personalized path of study. The program even garnered recognition in Forbes.
#NAILEDIT “During the summers in graduate school, I tried my hand at being [a] lobster boat fisherman...I learned how to embrace [what] you cannot control.“—Tim Cloyd, Drury University
Photo courtesy Missouri State University
Men’s Head Basketball Coach at Missouri State University
Dana Ford was named head coach at Missouri State University in 2018. At 35 years old, Ford is already recognized as one of the most promising head coaches in the United States. Before his appointment at MSU, Ford served as head coach at Tennessee State University for four years and was awarded the Ben Jobe Award in 2016. While at TSU, Ford, the nation’s youngest head coach at the time, orchestrated an incredible turnaround—taking the Tigers from a 5–26 record to 20-11. Originally from Tamms, Illinois, Ford brings his experience and coaching skills to 417-land and the MSU Bears as part of a five-year contract.
Photo courtesy of OTC
Chancellor, Ozarks Technical Community College
University of Alabama, B.S. in business; University of Southern Mississippi, M.Ed. in educational administration, Ph.D. in higher education
Hal Higdon has had many meaningful moments throughout his career, but starting his first position in higher education in Alabama was significant. “I knew from the first day I was home,” he says. He is passionate about the impact of higher education and says “providing an opportunity for every person to access affordable and high-quality education that can change their life” is what drives him.
NEW IN 2019: “The passage of the tax levy in 2018 changed the trajectory of the college,” Higdon says, including the development of a Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing, a new OTC Republic Center, an expanded Agriculture Center at the OTC Richwood Valley Campus and new technical programs at the OTC Table Rock Campus.
Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools
Missouri Southern State University, B.S. in education; Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), M.S. in educational administration, Ed.S. in education; University of Arkansas, Ed.D. in educational leadership
John Jungmann is an advocate for creating opportunities in public education, which is why the passing of Proposition S in 2019 is a major win for the Missouri Association of School Administrators Pearce Award winner. Proposition S proposed a debt-service levy to fund renovations or reconstructions for six schools within the Springfield Public Schools system. The fund also encompassed safety updates to 31 schools and expansion of services in northwest and southwest Springfield through new early childhood centers. Since the bond’s passing in April, construction is already underway—if not completed—for multiple safe entrance projects. Reconstruction has begun for Delaware Elementary and Sunshine Elementary, and ground has been broken for the Southwest Early Childhood Center.
President, Missouri State University
Tulane University, B.A. in political science; University of Arkansas, J.D.
A former lawyer and two-time finalist for the Missouri Supreme Court, Clif Smart continues to succeed as Missouri State University’s president. The school has seen fall enrollment increases for seven of the past eight years, notably after Smart took the reins in June 2011. There is no sign of him slowing down, either. The university’s state funding has seen an increase, campus facilities have been updated and tuition increases have been minimal. And, MSU unveiled its next step in it’s funding endeavors. In October 2019 on Homecoming weekend, the university announced Onward, Upward, a historic $250 million capital campaign, headed by alumnus and actor John Goodman. Smart will continue to push until Boomer is top of mind in the state. Read the full story here.
Carol A. Taylor
President, Evangel University
Evangel University, B.A. in education; Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, M.A. in cross-cultural communication; Florida State University, Ph.D. in multilingual/multicultural education
Carol Taylor returned to Springfield in 2013 to be president of her alma mater after leading Vanguard University for six years. Before Vanguard, she spent seven years at Biola University and 12 years at Education Testing Service (ETS) in New Jersey. Obstacles in both positions, including a stalled research and development project at ETS, which led to the development of a new test framework, and navigating a probation sanction and addressing concerns from the full accreditation commission at Vanguard, taught Taylor resilience.
NEW IN 2019: This year marked the first year Evangel University has exceeded $2 million in unrestricted giving. The University also launched a Center for Compassion in partnership with Convoy of Hope.
“In every situation, strive to do the right thing in the right way for the right reasons.“—Carol A. Taylor, Evangel University
FINANCE & BANKING
Ann Marie Baker
Executive Vice President, Commercial Banking Division at UMB Bank
University of Missouri-Columbia, B.S. in business administration
“Listen and learn!” Ann Marie Baker says when asked what advice she’d give to newcomers in the business community. “Really listening is highly underrated and underutilized. Building relationships with others is best done by showing respect and interest through openly and actively paying attention to what others are sharing about themselves.” Baker is entrenched in the business community as the president of the greater Missouri region at UMB Bank. Outside of work, Baker serves as a system board member at Mercy Kids Hospital, a member of the Springfield Chamber Visioning Committee, and a Trinity Lutheran Church Endowment Chair and Council Member.
“Really listening is highly underrated and underutilized.“—Ann Marie Baker, UMB Bank
Photo courtesy of Guaranty Bank
Shaun A. Burke
President and CEO, Guaranty Bank
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance; University of Colorado, Graduate School of Banking
Shaun Burke is president and CEO of Guaranty Bank. Last year, Burke oversaw the conversion of several Hometown Bank locations in Carthage, Joplin, Neosho, Oronogo and Pineville, Missouri, into Guaranty Bank locations. Burke also served much of 2018 as chairman of the Missouri Bankers Association (MBA).
NEW IN 2019: Burke was appointed to the American Bankers Association Government Relations Council. Through the council, Burke is involved in developing recommendations on positions and priorities regarding legislative and regulatory issues.
Robert C. Fulp
Chief Executive Officer at Springfield First Community Bank
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance and accounting
Community involvement has always been a passion for Robert Fulp. It’s easy to see, from the founding of Springfield First Community Bank to serving as vice chairman of the board at CoxHealth. In 2018, Fulp received the Missouri State Golden Bear Award in recognition of significant contributions to the success of the College of Business at Missouri State University. “I really enjoy speaking to various grade levels at both Missouri State, Drury and Springfield Catholic schools.” Fulp says. “I continue to learn much from our young Springfieldians.”
NEW IN 2019: Fulp was featured in the Ingram’s “50 Missourians You Should Know” for 2019.
Photo courtesy of Bob Hammerschmidt
Vice Chairman, Commerce Bank
Arkansas Tech University, B.S. in business administration; University of Colorado, American Bankers Association School of Bank Marketing; University of Wisconsin–Madison, ABA Graduate School of Bank Marketing; Southern Methodist University, Southwestern Graduate School of Banking
Originally planning to join his family’s lumber business, Bob Hammerschmidt switched directions his last semester of college and hasn’t looked back. Hammerschmidt has spent 32 years at at Commerce Bank, where he transitioned from president to vice chairman in 2018 and is proud of playing a small role in the company’s recognition by Forbes in 2019 among the World’s Best Banks, America’s Best Banks, America’s Best Midsize Employers and America’s Best Employers for Women.
NEW IN 2019: In 2019, Hammerschmidt became new chairman of the Mercy Health System Springfield Communities, a member of the Mercy Board Central Region and Southeast Rotary’s seargent-at-arms.
#NAILEDIT “Unable to complete the acquisition of Citizens Bank in Arkansas in 1987 due to circumstances beyond my control set me up to hook my career wagon to one of the strongest banks in the United States.“—Bob Hammerschmidt, Commerce Bank
President and CEO, Central Bank of the Ozarks
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance and investments; ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking
Russ Marquart has made a major impact when it comes to community involvement in 417-land. The Central Bank of the Ozarks president and CEO has worked with Community Partnership of the Ozarks, Mercy Health Systems, Convoy of Hope, Eden Village and the Rotary Club of Springfield. This year, Central Bank of the Ozarks raised money for the Ozarks Food Harvest, Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks and Harmony House.
NEW IN 2019: Marquart, along with the Central Bank team, made it to the 2019 FCA National Golf Scramble after competing in the Integrity Home Care Pro-Am in conjunction with the Price Cutter Charity Championship.
Southwest Missouri Region CEO and Chairman, Commerce Bank
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business administration and finance; University of Wisconsin–Madison, Graduate School of Banking
Doug Neff relocated from Kansas City to Wichita 12 years into his career and learned how to succeed on new turf. Now he’s settled into Springfield and seeing that same ambition in the next generation, especially as past board chairman for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are blessed to have a very talented and engaged group of young professionals,” he says. “They are our future.”
NEW IN 2019: Neff served as Chair of the Chamber of Commerce in 2018, and now he’s taking on even more leadership within Commerce Bank as community markets director of strategy and by joining the corporate Executive Management Committee.
“I get lots of energy from watching and learning from young professionals. The next
generation of leaders is inspirational, and I enjoy helping them develop their skill set.“—Doug Neff, Commerce Bank
Executive Vice President and COO, Guaranty Bank
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in communication; Drury University, MBA
Robin Robeson joined Guaranty Bank as its COO in 2012 and, at the helm, she has spearheaded the bank’s rebranding and expansion efforts. Both have paid off in big ways for the community bank. After a renewed focus on broadening the bank’s footprint (including a recent acquisition of Hometown Bank, expanding the bank’s presence in Joplin, Carthage and Neosho) and modernizing its facilities, Guaranty announced that it has surpassed $1 billion in assets for the third quarter of 2019.
NEW IN 2019: Personally, Robeson’s leadership extends beyond the bank. This year, she was named to CoxHealth’s Board of Directors and Chair Elect of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. When she becomes Chair, Robeson will be fifth female leader in the Chamber’s history.
#NAILEDIT “[The] successful acquisition, conversion and integration of Hometown Bank...One year later we are reaping the benefits of our efforts and have a stronger organization because of it.“—Robin Robeson, Guaranty Bank
Joseph W. Turner
President and CEO, Great Southern Bank
Drake University, B.S. in business administration; University of Missouri–Columbia, J.D.
Joseph Turner was settling into the courtroom when his father asked him to join Great Southern Bank. He has worked his way up, navigating multiple challenges such as the financial crisis. “We learned from these mistakes and made necessary changes to prevent future error,” he says. “Great Southern emerged as a stronger, more successful company.”
NEW IN 2019: Bank Director recognized Great Southern Bank for producing the fifth best total all-time shareholder return among every publicly traded bank in the United States.
Gary W. Schafer II
Managing Partner–Southern Missouri Offices, BKD LLP
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in accounting
After serving 23 years in public accounting, Gary W. Schafer II has risen to the role of managing partner at BKD in the past year and oversees the firm’s presence in Springfield, Branson and Joplin. Throughout his long career, Schafer says the defining moment was recognizing the commonly held misconception that an accountant’s role is merely crunching numbers and quoting IRS code. “They’re not all wrong, but a defining moment in my career was when I crossed over from academically applying complex technical knowledge to becoming a true, trusted advisor to my clients,” he says. Outside of the office, Schafer stays busy as a member of the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks’ board executive committee and member of Springfield Metro Rotary club.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Photo courtesy of Askinosie Chocolate
Founder and CEO, Askinosie Chocolate
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in political science, J.D.
Criminal-defense-attorney-turned-chocolatier Shawn Askinosie is no stranger to trying new things. After swapping the courtroom for Askinosie Chocolate, he continues to build on his experience while keeping the startup spirit intact. Despite a successful career as a lawyer, Askinosie knew he needed a change. Struck by sudden inspiration, he dug into the chocolate-making business. Askinosie Chocolate is now in its 12th year.
NEW IN 2019: Askinosie has given a TEDx talk in Oklahoma, and started construction of a preschool for 300 children in Tanzania.
Lyle Q. Foster
CEO, Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar
Macalester College, B.A. in political science, urban studies and sociology; Brown University, M.A. in sociology; Yale University, M.A. in religion; University of Missouri–Columbia, Ph.D. in educational leadership
Lyle Foster and the Big Momma’s team have been creating community on Historic Commercial Street for 12 years. In addition to his title of CEO, Foster is an assistant professor at Missouri State Unversity where he teaches in the sociology and anthropology department.
NEW IN 2019: Foster helped spearhead “a dedication ceremony of a historical marker to create greater awareness of an act of racial injustice that occurred in Springfield 113 years ago.” It was in remembrance of three African American men who were lynched in downtown Springfield in 1906.
Sam F. Hamra
Attorney and Chairman of Hamra Enterprises
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S./B.A. in business administration, LL.B.
Sam Hamra, chairman of Hamra Enterprises, has been making investments in food franchises since 1976. His investments include Panera Bread, Wendy’s and Noodles & Company. Beyond food franchises, Hamra is also deeply involved in his community, having played an instrumental part in the development of Nixa’s City's Electrical Distribution System as Nixa City Attorney (1965–70) and the expansion of CoxHealth.
NEW IN 2019: In the last year, Hamra has been awarded the key to the city of Nixa from Mayor Brian Steele. The philosophy that drives him is simple: “Never give up! If something you invest in does not work, pick yourself up and keep going.”
Vice President/Chairman of the Board, Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co.
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in home economics journalism
Sally Hargis credits her father, Ed Rice, for her work ethic as vice president and chairman of the board at Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co. “He has been leading our family and our business since the age of 14 and will turn 89 this year,” she says. That work ethic has seen Hargis steer the company through massive growth.
NEW IN 2019: The Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co. facility was expanded to greatly increase cases produced, and will be producing Dasani water. Further expansion is planned for 2020.
Chairman of the Board, American Dehydrated Foods Inc., International Dehydrated Foods Inc., Isonova Technologies LLC and Food Ingredients Technology Co. LLC
University of Nebraska, B.S. in engineering
Kurt Hellweg is chairman of the board of International Dehydrated Foods, Inc.; Food Ingredients Technology Co. LLC and American Dehydrated Foods Inc. Hellweg also sits on the board of directors for the Darr Family Foundation, which was created to continue the philanthropic work of Hellweg’s father-in-law, William H. Darr.
This year, American Dehydrated Foods Inc. and International Dehydrated Foods Inc. were sold to German company Symrise Nutrition for $900 million, bringing international resources and insight to the 417-land-based companies.
President and CEO, Andy’s Frozen Custard
Andy Kuntz’s name is at least partially familiar to almost everyone in 417-land, even if they don’t realize it. The president and CEO of Andy’s Frozen Custard, Kuntz also took up farming last year as a personal hobby, growing corn and pumpkins. In the meantime, Andy’s Frozen Custard continues to expand more than 30 years after it began operations, expanding into 13 states. With the growth they have experienced, Kuntz’s biggest challenge is now paring down the sheer amount of knowledge and experience both he and his team have gained in order to teach the next generation of business owners.
NEW IN 2019: Andy’s Frozen Custard opened its 75th franchise location this year.
Photo by Vivian Wheeler
Owner and Founder, Mother’s Brewing Co.
Publisher, The Daily Events
Kansas State University, B.S. in journalism and social sciences
Mother’s Brewing Company has become one of the most recognizable staples of 417-land since opening in 2011. Owner and founder Jeff Schrag began brewing after a bevy of different experiences in the working world. Mother’s Brewing Company expanded into St. Louis in 2018, but the brewery continues to maintain the heart of its identity in Springfield.
NEW IN 2019: Mother’s made an impression on pop culture with a Se7en-inspired commercial for their limited-run Do Good beer with another Springfield icon—Doug Pitt (standing in for his less famous brother, Brad).
Vice President of Public Affairs, CoxHealth
Missouri State University, B.S. in business management; Webster University, MBA
Since starting at CoxHealth in 2011, Teresa Coyan has become a vital part of its team. In her time at CoxHealth, she has discovered a passion for working to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services. “I’m proud of the great team of community leaders that I have the opportunity to collaborate with,” says Coyan.
NEW IN 2019: Coyan was named vice president of public affairs at CoxHealth, and was appointed to the Missouri Department of Health’s Mental Health Commission by Governor Mike Parson.
President & CEO of Burrell Behavioral Health
Culver-Stockton College, B.A. in psychology; University of Central Missouri, M.A. in clinical and counseling psychology; Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, Psy.D. in clinical psychology
C.J. Davis is president and CEO of Burrell Behavioral Health, and holds a B.S. in Psychology, a masters’ degree in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and a doctorate in Psychology. Davis has worked at nearly every level of behavioral health care in his 25-year career, including community and residential treatment, primary care behavioral health and even criminal justice. His focus is on accessibility and breaking the stigma around behavioral health. “I’m excited about the appetite our community has for Burrell to become a thriving organization that serves the ever-growing demand for mental health and addiction recovery services,” says Davis.
President and CEO, CoxHealth
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in political science; Washington University in St. Louis, Master of health care administration
As the president and CEO of CoxHealth, Steve Edwards sees the value in knowing when to be impatient. “In our business, speed saves lives,” he says. “Door-to-doctor time, O.R. start times, trauma response times, primary and physician access times all impact patient outcomes.” Edwards has the experience to back up his words, with over 20 years at CoxHealth. The last year saw CoxHealth break ground on a new hospital in Monett. Also in 2019, CoxHealth was recognized by Forbes in its list of best employers, with 92% of the CoxHealth workforce completing the employee satisfaction survey. "I work for a company that has 12,000 employees aligned with the same vision,” says Edwards. "To be the best for those who need us."
“I work for a company that has 12,000 employees aligned with the same vision. To be the best for those who need us.“—Steve Edwards, CoxHealth
Photo courtesy of Mercy
Senior Vice President and Regional President, Mercy Central Communities
Maryville University, B.S. in business administration; Webster University, Master of health care administration
As president of Mercy Central Communities, Jon Swope oversees facilities in Kansas, Arkansas and across 417-land. “Even with the challenges we face, being a part of Mercy is exciting,” says Swope, who has been with the organization since 1980. “When I look at the next generation of leaders, I can’t wait to see what they will do to revolutionize care.”
NEW IN 2019: Mercy Springfield hired 60 physicians to meet growing patient volumes, opened Phase II of Mercy Heart Hospital Springfield, opened Mercy Bolivar Multispecialty and broke ground for Mercy Kids ER, the region’s first and only pediatric emergency room.
Photo by Dan Emrie
CEO, Nixon & Lindstrom Insurance
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in communications
During his career, Trevor Crist has made many calls, but arguably the most important one was to Nixon & Lindstrom owner Luke Nixon regarding his interest in the insurance industry. Sharing a mutual fraternity affiliation, the two met over lunch and the rest is history. Since, Crist has emphasized the importance of building connections, including in his role as president of the local Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity alumni association. Crist also serves on the board of directors for DREAM, an organization providing a life-changing approach to help youth reach their full potential.
NEW IN 2019: Crist joined Systematic Savings Bank’s reorganized board of directors as its first member.
Gordon L. Kinne
President, Med-Pay, Inc.
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in political science
Gordon Kinne founded Med-Pay, Inc. less than a decade after he began his career. Outside of still serving as president of the business, he spends his time hunting, being with his family and being deeply involved in giving back to the community. In 2018, Kinne served on the board of trustees for the Missouri State University Foundation during a record-breaking year that saw them receive $21.5 million.
NEW IN 2019: This year Kinne was recognized as the “Springfieldian of the Year” by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “I was so surprised, honored and humbled,” he says. “Our city and area are very special places to live.”
Photo courtesy of Ollis Akers Arney
CEO of Ollis/Akers/Arney; City of Springfield Councilmember
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in finance
Early in his career in risk and insurance advising, Richard Ollis stumbled and made a mistake that would ultimately transform his business entire model. After missing a deadline with a client, Ollis turned a misstep into an opportunity, creating a timeline that would see his business adapt from providing simple transactions to full consultations. Now, Ollis not only runs his own agency, but he is involved in the community. He currently serves on the Springfield City Council.
NEW IN 2019: In April of 2019, Ollis was elected to General Seat D on the City Council after running a successful political campaign to remain on the council in 2018.
“Always try to understand all perspectives before making a decision.“—Richard Ollis, Ollis/Akers/Arney
Partner at Husch Blackwell LLP
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.A. in finance; University of Missouri–Columbia, J.D.
David Agee has handled many complex transactional cases as a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP. In the last year, Agee led a team in the acquisition of a large number of new long-range aircrafts for American Airlines. This purchase was especially complicated thanks to the many detailed agreements involved, along with coordination among multiple disciplines on both the airline and the manufacturer side. Even with a career in handling multifaceted transactions, Agee maintains a straightforward business motto: “Integrity is your most valuable asset.”
Executive Director, Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association
George Washington University, B.B.A. in business economics and public policy; Tulsa University, J.D.
Crista Hogan is recognized throughout 417-land as a key part of the legal community. After running her own practice, she joined the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, where she is now executive director. In the past year, Hogan was appointed to the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. Hogan still has deep ties to the community, which she helps through her work—particularly the 1217 Project. This initiative is focused on alleviating the cycle of poverty by solving related legal issues. “Our 1217 Project is doing great work,” says Hogan. “Forging strong community alliances and changing lives.
NEW IN 2019: The Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association was recognized at the National Conference of Bar Foundations with a LexisNexis Award.
Randell D. Wallace
Partner in Charge, Kutak Rock LLP
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business administration and political science; Vanderbilt University, J.D.
Randell D. Wallace is partner in charge at the Springfield office of Kutak Rock, LLP, a Nebraska-based law firm. Wallace handles a wide variety of real estate matters: acquisition, divestiture, zoning, planning, bankruptcy, leasing and many others, drawing on an extensive career in corporate finance and related areas. Wallace has been recognized a number of times as a lawyer and business leader. Wallace’s work ethic and drive come from his late father, he says, who worked for the Federal Aviation Administration.
NEW IN 2019: Wallace is included in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, a peer-reviewed collection of top lawyers that has been published annually since 1983.
Flunky, Custom Protein Corp.
One of Springfield’s most notable philanthropists is known for attending black-tie events in overalls. Bobby Allison has donated millions of dollars to various organizations and causes in 417-land, including Missouri State University, Mercy Hospital Springfield and area parks, which earned him a 2015 award from the Missouri Park & Recreation Association. Allison oversees sales and purchases for Custom Protein Corp.
NEW IN 2019: Construction continues on the three-phase expansion of Greenwood Laboratory School. Allison pledged a seven-figure matching gift for the project, expected to cost more than $6 million.
CEO, Independent Stave Company
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in industrial engineering
Independent Stave Co. has remained a family business for four generations, with CEO Brad Boswell starting training at just 9 years old. Early in his career, Boswell learned that the customer is king. “If I have a contentious situation with a client, I do my best to win them over with kindness,” says Boswell.
NEW IN 2019: For the first time in more than four decades, Independent Stave Co. purchased acreage to sustainably harvest white oak for cooperage. “The roots of our company started in the timber industry,” Boswell says. “Coming back to owning land, after all the growth we’ve experienced as a company, is exciting.”
CEO and Chairman of the Board, Positronic Industries
Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S. in chemical engineering
As CEO and chairman of the board of Positronic Industries, John Gentry has several U.S. and international patents under his belt. He is also involved in community organizations including Every Child Promise, the Missouri Association of Manufacturers and the OTC’s Board of Trustees.
NEW IN 2019: Positronic Industries joined the Open Compute Project (OCP)—focused on redesigning hardware technology to efficiently support the growing demands on compute infrastructure.
Dwayne A. Holden
President, Custom Metalcraft Inc.
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business
Dwayne A. Holden doesn’t shy away from a challenge, and in his line of work, there can be a lot of them. He thrives on developing new products for the variety of industries—such as food, chemical and energy—that Custom Metalcraft serves. Holden advises other people to “never give up, as there will be a way to solve the challenge.”
NEW IN 2019: This year, the 42-year-old company entered the polyethylene tank industry when it began producing plastic tanks.
Photo by Brandon Alms
David C. Humphreys
President and CEO, TAMKO Building Products LLC
University of the South, B.A. in English; University of Miami, J.D.; New York University, LLM in taxation
As the president and CEO of TAMKO—one of the country’s largest independent manufacturers of roofing products—David Humpreys advocates for liberty and free-market principles. He also serves as a board member for the Institute for Humane Studies and the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, is a director at the CATO Institute and is co-founder of Joplin’s Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School.
NEW IN 2019: TAMKO commemorated its 75th anniversary. It also expanded with a new executive headquarters in Galena, Kansas.
President and CEO, Paul Mueller Co.
Middlebury College, B.A. in physics; University of Chicago, MBA
In 2011, David Moore assumed the role of president at Paul Mueller Co., the business his grandfather started in 1940. Since then, the stainless steel equipment manufacturer has seen many milestones, such as celebrating the company’s 75th year in business and implementing open-book management under the Great Game of Business.
NEW IN 2019: Paul Mueller Co. was awarded the Missouri Association of Manufacturers Member (Medium) 2019 Manufacturer of the Year Award. Categories used in the judging process included direct tie of strategy to execution, effective leadership and culture.
President, Central States Industrial
Missouri State University, B.S. in accounting
Joe Reynolds, president of Central States Industrial (CSI), started his career with CSI in 1992 as chief financial officer. After 15 years, Reynolds transitioned to Digital Monitoring Products as Vice President and CFO, before returning to CSI in 2013. Throughout his career, Reynolds has been involved in community, industry and ministry organizations. He currently serves as board chairman of Springfield City Utilities, as a board member of Food Industry Supplier Association and serves on advisory boards for Missouri State University and Ozark Technical Community College.
Photo by Brandon Alms
President and CEO, SRC Holdings Corp.
Elmhurst College, B.S. in business
When Jack Stack and his partners bought International Harvester in 1983, the business was a far cry from where it stands today. “We learned the difference between making a product and what it took to build a company,” he says. Many have looked to Stack’s book about open-book management, The Great Game of Business, for advice.
NEW IN 2019: Having already written two books on leadership, this year Stack took on the role of author once again to write his newest book, Change the Game: Saving the American Dream by Closing the Gap Between the Haves and the Have-Nots.
Owner and CEO, Springfield Sign
Missouri University of Science and Technology, B.S. in electrical engineering
A former electrical engineer, Mark Wessell was without a job and expecting his first child in 1986 when he followed the lead of his aunt and uncle who were in the sign business and started Springfield Sign on a shoestring budget. “We now operate one of the largest central U.S. sign and plastic companies,” says Wessell.
NEW IN 2019: Springfield Sign brought home the grand prize for the 2019 Watchfire LED Sign Awards for its work with Fritz’s Adventure in Branson and won first place in the Tri-State Sign Association Awards.
CEO and Founder, Drew Lewis Foundation, Inc, Solely Jolie, and Blansit Investment Group, LLC; Instructor of Kinesiology, Missouri State University
Drury University, B.A. in exercise physiology; Adelphi University, M.A. in exercise physiology; A.T. Still University, DHSc
Amy Blansit is more than an entrepreneur. She’s a community leader, philanthropist and advocate who plays an integral role at each organization she’s a part of, whether it’s at The Fairbanks community center; at her nonprofit, the Drew Lewis Foundation; or in her classroom at MSU. In business, Blansit lives by Ronald Reagan’s famous words: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
NEW IN 2019: After nearly seven years, the 113-year-old Fairbanks will open this winter. The renovation is possible through generous donations from the Drew Lewis Foundation Board, Mabee Foundation, Darr Family Foundation and many others.
President and CEO, Community Foundation of the Ozarks
University of Mississippi, B.B.A., M.B.A.
As the president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Brian Fogle got the opportunity to visit Chattanooga last year on the annual Community Leadership Visit. Seeing how Chattanooga’s leaders and private donors worked together to fund the city’s improvement projects motivated Fogle to apply the same practices in Springfield. With this goal in mind, Fogle unveiled CFO’s latest project, Philanthropy Summit, this October. The day-long conference promoted implementation of a philanthropic culture in Springfield while giving business leaders, donors and funders the opportunity to hear speakers from across the nation discuss how private dollars have impacted their city.
Francine M. Pratt
Prosper Springfield Director, Prosper Springfield
University of Phoenix, B.S. in business management
Before moving to Springfield to work in the nonprofit sector, Francine Pratt worked for the state of California and held professional positions in the corporate world. Now, she holds a position that she says “belongs to the community,” as the director of Prosper Springfield—an initiative that works to increase postsecondary education and reduce poverty across Springfield through a collaborative model. Last year, the Prosper Springfield website was launched to provide a community portal for individuals to find resources and services in one location and updates on the measures being taken to meet community goals.
NEW IN 2019: Pratt was selected as vice chair for the Missouri College Access Network Board of Directors and chosen to serve as a committee member for the State of Missouri Equity Project.
Owner, Magers Management Company
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business
Since 1970, Magers Management Company has charted a different course in property development by creating and managing nearly 200 properties for many of Nixa and Springfield’s most popular eateries, professional services, shopping centers and more. This year, Magers finished construction on his latest housing project, a two-story apartment building called HollandEdge, designed with 48 fully furnished microunits and located on South Holland Avenue across from Missouri State’s Strong Hall.
PUBLIC & ELECTED OFFICIALS
U.S. Senator for Missouri
Southwest Baptist University, B.A. in history; Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), M.A. in history
As evidenced by his career in education and politics, Roy Blunt has a passion for serving people. The former history teacher served as president of his alma mater Southwest Baptist University for four years. Blunt, a Webster County native, has held office as Greene County clerk, Missouri Secretary of State and U.S. Representative for eight terms. In 2010, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he serves on the Appropriations Committee and is chairman of the Rules Committee.
NEW IN 2019: Blunt was honored with the Children’s Hospital Association’s (CHA) Champion for Children’s Health Award. CHA recognized Blunt for his advocacy on the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act, which was signed into law earlier this year.
Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer, Mexican Villa Food Products Inc.
Zone 1 City Councilwoman, City of Springfield
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.A. in history
Phyllis Ferguson has made it her mission to improve the quality of life of her constituents. A U.S. Army Reserves veteran and co-writer for the strategic plan for Moon City Creative District, Ferguson has long been a community leader. She joined Springfield City Council in 2015. Ferguson can often be found working her family’s three-generation business and Springfield institution: Mexican Villa.
NEW IN 2019: Ferguson was elected Mayor Pro Tem in April. She also renovated a rock motor court called Rockwood Motor Court, which opened in November.
Speaker of the House, Missouri House of Representatives
Attorney, Kutak Rock LLP
Missouri Western State University, B.S. in History, B.S. in Government and Public Affairs, University of Missouri School of Law, J.D.
Elijah Haahr grew up in southwest Missouri and attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he graduated with honors from law school. He returned to Springfield and tried his first case two years later. He ran for, and was elected, State Representative in 2012. In his second term, he was named chairman of the Emerging Issues committee. He has passed seven pieces of legislation including the largest income tax cut in state history. He now serves as the 77th Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Photo by Harrison Sweazea
Senator, Missouri Senate
Missouri State University, B.S. in political science
Senator Lincoln Hough was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2010 and served three terms. He’s also served as Greene County Commissioner and in November 2018, he was elected to represent the 30th District in the Missouri Senate. Senator Hough is a former member of the State Board of Missouri Cattleman’s Association and a current board member of the Greene County Farm Bureau.
DID YOU KNOW: Hough also owns and operates a family cattle ranch, which he started more than 20 years ago. For the past several years, he also enjoyed serving as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.
City Manager, City of Springfield
Missouri Southern State College, B.A. in political science, University of Missouri, M.A. in public administration
Born and raised in southwest Missouri, Jason Gage has a long history working for city government. He served as the city manager of Salina, Kansas; Stillwater, Oklahoma; and De Soto, Missouri. In 2018, he landed his current role as Springfield’s city manager. He is a credentialed International City/County Management Association member, a member of the Missouri City/County Managers Association and has served on various community boards, which currently includes the Community Partnership of the Ozarks. In 2013, Jason was also honored by receiving the Buford M. Watson Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Management by the Kansas Association of City/County Management.
#NAILEDIT “I was part of a campaign that resulted in constructing a new water park for Salina, [Kansas]. Instead of serving around 300 people...they now serve over 2,000.“—Jason Gage, City of Springfield
Mayor, City of Springfield
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.A. in history; Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), M.A. in history
Re-elected for a second term this April, Ken McClure first won the competitive mayoral race in 2017. As mayor, McClure has been a strong voice on the city council. He is a former councilman himself. He has placed a continued emphasis on growing Springfield’s economy and responding to population growth while also helping oversee programs to stimulate job growth.
NEW IN 2019: The city council has successfully tackled several difficult issues over the past year including the development of zoning regulations and requirements relating to marijuana establishments and the city’s comprehensive plan for Springfield over the next 20 to 30 years. “This is a community-wide effort that is just beginning; it will be an exciting one involving all elements of our community,” says McClure.
General Manager, City Utilities of Springfield
University of Texas–Austin, B.S. in mechanical engineering; Wright State University, MBA in finance
WWith 30 years of experience in the utility industry under his belt, Scott Miller is a trusted leader at the helm of City Utilities of Springfield (CU). Miller serves as vice-chair of the board of directors of the Energy Authority in Jacksonville, Florida. Miller retired this year and was replaced by Gary Gibson.
NEW IN 2019: City Utilities announced plans to expand its fiber optic network by more than 1,000 route miles. It’s investing $120 million over the next four years to construct the network and no customer rate increases are paying for the expansion. CenturyLink is the first service provider. It’s services will be available by the spring of 2020.
President and CEO, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Southwest Baptist University, B.S. in communication, MBA
Matt Morrow spends his days advocating for local economic development. It’s no surprise that he feels strongly about the power of local business: He works every day to help companies and the higher education system “learn each other’s languages and work together to proactively meet the rapidly changing talent needs of job creators.”
NEW IN 2019: This year, Morrow’s proudest achievement was during the legislative session when “key legislative leaders, the governor and business leaders from across the state completely overhauled Missouri’s economic and workforce development system and tools.”
Missouri Governor, State of Missouri
Wheatland High School
Holding political office wasn’t on Mike Parson’s radar until the early 1990s when the Polk County sheriff, who was heading for retirement, encouraged Parson to become his replacement. So began the Wheatland native’s decades-long career in various public offices. Parson served in the Missouri House and Senate before being elected as lieutenant governor in 2017 and moved into his current role as governor in 2018. Now, Parson is focused on improving the state’s infrastructure and facing challenges in workforce development.
NEW IN 2019: In an effort to further improve workforce development, Parson recently signed legislation to provide the state with the tools needed for a more competitive stance in the workforce. “From day one, workforce development and infrastructure have been top priorities for our administration. To make Missouri more competitive, we’re making strategic investments in these areas that will drive growth going forward,” says Governor Parson.
“From day one, workforce development and infrastructure have been top priorities for our administration.“—Mike Parson, State of Missouri
District 132 Representative, Missouri House of Representatives
House Minority Floor Leader, 100th General Assembly
Missouri State University, B.S.W.
Crystal Quade’s defining moment in her career came in 2016 when she won her election to the Missouri House of Representatives. She was co-chair of the House Democratic Caucus and now serves as the Minority Floor Leader.
NEW IN 2019: Quade, along with other legislators, supported Hailey’s Law, which went into effect in August. The law updates the Amber Alert system, which reduces the time it takes to send out an alert. The law comes after Springfield 10-year-old Hailey Owens was abducted, raped and murdered.
Photo by Brandon Alms
Mary Ann Rojas
Director of Workforce Development, City of Springfield/Ozark Workforce Development Board
Midwestern State University, B.A.A.S. in management
Mary Ann Rojas learned a hard lesson when she had to close her business and lay off employees. “I felt I had failed them. That was a heavy burden,” she says. But that failure paved the way for her to become the first woman and person of color to be an executive leader for the City of Springfield.
NEW IN 2019: The Ozark Workforce Development Board celebrated the Momentum Survey’s fifth anniversary, saw record attendance at the “Build My Future” construction career expo and hosted a record number of recruiting events.
Photo by Brandon Alms
President and CEO, Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB
Drury University, B.A. in business administration
Jeff Seifried has led the charge in promoting tourism in and around Branson since 2015. He works to nurture the assets of the community and is a champion for all that Branson has to offer. That’s no small task as the region continues to grow—Branson currently has around $800 million in the development pipeline. Seifried, a former Springfield City Council member and mayor pro tem, also serves on the RMI Membership and Southwest Loan Committee to evaluate and approve 504 loans.
NEW IN 2019: Seifried and his team celebrated the completion of construction on the new 18,000-square-foot Welcome Center and Office for the Branson Chamber and CVB this summer, and Branson was named as one of the Top 25 U.S. Destinations by TripAdvisor for the 8th year in a row.
Owner and CEO, PFI Western Store, RL Associates
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in agricultural economics
What started as a feed and farm supply company is now a multimillion dollar clothing retailer under the guidance of Randy Little, who became the sole owner in the ’80s. “There is always more out there—more to do, more mountains to climb,” he says.
NEW IN 2019: Little chaired the Good Samaritan Boys Ranch “Roundup at the Ranch.” Little also founded the first annual BootDaddy Bash, which raised more than $200,000 for the Good Samaritan Boys Ranch and the Western Sports Foundation in its inaugural year.
“There is always more out there—more to do, more mountains to climb.“—Randy Little, PFI Western Store, RL Associates
CEO and Founder, Bass Pro Shops
Drury College (now Drury University), Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in business
Another year has passed, and another list of lofty business moves have been made by Bass Pro Shops CEO and Founder Johnny Morris, a Drury College (now Drury University) alum.
NEW IN 2019: Bass Pro Shops announced a new location for a retail store in Morgantown, West Virginia. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are also donating 55,000 rods to nonprofit partners in an effort to get more kids outside, and this year, Morris says he’s personally donating at least $1 million to support Convoy of Hope in their response efforts to Hurricane Dorian. Golfweek also named Buffalo Ridge Springs at Big Cedar Lodge “Best Public Course in Missouri.”
Chairman of the Board, O’Reilly Auto Parts
Drury College (now Drury University), B.A. in business and economics
A third-generation employee, David O’Reilly joined his family’s automotive retail company when it was still in its formative years. Working long hours while being an active family man was a challenge, he says, but he learned some of his most valuable lessons about business then. “There is no substitute for managing the smallest details of your business or your associates,” he says. “If you manage all of the little things, the big things take care of themselves.”
NEW IN 2019: By the end of the year, O’Reilly Auto Parts will have 200-plus new stores. The company also announced an acquisition of a family owned Mexican company that will make them an international company.
President and CEO, Russell Cellular Inc.
Bruno Pyatt High School
As one of the nation’s largest Verizon Wireless retailers, Russell Cellular Inc. operates more than 640 stores across 37 states and employs more than 2,700 people. It all started in 1993 when President and CEO Jeff Russell began selling Alltel Wireless phones from the trunk of his car after a career in turkey farming. He and his wife, Kym Russell, show no signs of slowing down. In December, the team opened up its new 40,000-square-foot headquarters in Battlefield. The building features a brand-new training facility, which allows the company to fly in leadership from across the country for new training sessions and seminars. In this year alone, the company hit its biggest sales month and completed its two largest acquisitions in the company’s 25-year history, all in the span of a few months.
Photo courtesy of Stephens Photography
Thomas H. Douglas
President and CEO, JMARK Business Solutions
Bolivar High School
Thomas H. Douglas is at the helm of one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America. JMARK, a nine-time recipient of the Inc. Magazine distinction, supports more than 15,000 devices across hundreds of networks. “Our industry drives change,” Douglas says. “Change is hard for business.”
NEW IN 2019: JMARK Business Solutions was awarded rankings by four annual lists compiled by leading business associations and IT industry publications: CRN’s Tech Elite 250; the ChannelE2E Top 100 Vertical Market MSPs list; CRN’s MSP500 list; and Channel Futures list of the Top 501 MSPs.
#NAILEDIT “When I was in the Navy, I had a lieutenant who I very much didn’t get along with...I learned what not to be as a leader.“—Thomas H. Douglas, JMARK Business Solutions
President and CEO, Jack Henry & Associates
Minnesota State University Moorhead, B.S. in computer science
David Foss joined Jack Henry & Associates, a Monett-based financial services technology provider, in 1999 through the acquisition of BancTec’s financial solutions division—a deal that he personally arranged. Over the years, Foss climbed the company ranks and, in 2014, assumed the role of JHA president. Two years later, Foss added CEO to his business cards, following in the footsteps of Jack Prim. Foss has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and was appointed to the JHA board of directors in 2017, on which he still currently serves.
NEW IN 2019: Jack Henry & Associates purchased financial technology firm Geezeo. The firm is a Boston-based retail and business digital financial technology provider.
Founder and Co-owner, Pitt Technology Group
Owner and Developer, Pitt Development Group LLC
Founder, Care To Learn
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in communications
Doug Pitt has a long history of successes. He started Serviceworld in 1991, before eventually selling it. He later bought it back in 2017 and renamed the business Pitt Technology Group. The company encompasses five businesses including local businesses AVMAN & Associates and Concepticode, LLC, which were acquired last year.
NEW IN 2019: Care to Learn celebrated its 10-year anniversary and fulfilled its one millionth need. Pitt Technology Group acquired Syndeo Solutions, LLC just this year. Pitt Development Group finished building 150,000 square feet of medical office space. Also this year, Pitt was inducted into Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Hall of Fame.
TRAVEL & TOURISM
President and CEO, Elliott Lodging LTD.
Southwest Missouri State College (now MSU), B.S. in accounting
Gordon A. Elliott has experienced many ups and downs throughout his decades-long career, including founding public accounting firm Elliott, Robinson & Company LLP and hotel management company Elliott Lodging Ltd. He said his biggest source of inspiration is other luxury hotels where he notes specific features he can incorporate in his own hotels.
NEW IN 2019: Though it opened in 2018, Best Western did not consider the Vib hotel complete until this year. Elliott also made the move to downtown, where he currently lives with his wife. Since then, the two have been “enjoying the views of Springfield.”
“Every problem has a resolution. I plan for the next 5-10 years and continually monitor changes in business models and markets in order to modify decisions as needed for long term optimal results.“—Gordon A. Elliott, Elliott Lodging, Ltd.
Co-founder and Co-owner, Herschend Enterprises
Northwestern University, B.S. in business
Jack Herschend loves the environment as much as he loves creating theme parks around it—Silver Dollar City isn’t nestled in the Ozark woodlands for nothing. Like SDC, Herschend Enterprises’ portfolio also includes Dollywood, a theme park near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which also highlights the surrounding Tennessee region.
NEW IN 2019: Silver Dollar City announced a major park expansion with the new Mystic River Falls.
Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City
Co-founder and Co-owner, Herschend Enterprises
University of Missouri–Columbia, B.S. in business
The Herschend Enterprises co-founder and co-owner is well-known for his efforts to improve Missouri tourism—namely, his penchant for developing roads, improving environmental awareness and extending the annual tourism season in Branson. The family business includes companies Herschend Family Entertainment, Herschend Live, Herschend Entertainment Studios and Pink Adventure Tours. All four focus on family entertainment.
NEW IN 2019: Dollywood, a theme park owned by Herschend Family Entertainment, announced in May that it had opened its largest expansion thus far. Called Wildwood Grove, the expansion has “11 thrilling new experiences,” according to a press release. The expansion, costing $37 million, includes rides like the Black Bear Trail, Great Tree Swing, and Hidden Hollow.
President, Chief Operating Officer and Co-owner, Titanic Museum Attraction
Monmouth High School
Mary Kellogg-Joslyn is a big player in the entertainment world. She currently runs the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson and in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Before that, she’s worked for The Walt Disney Co. and for CBS, where she earned Emmy awards. She’s also traveled with Queen in Paris.
NEW IN 2019: “For four years we have searched the world to find the last remaining Titanic life jackets. There are only 12 known to exist and we were able to acquire six. In my world, ‘no’ does not exist.”
“[My biggest source of inspiration] is my crew. Every day they bring so much to the ships and they inspire me to continue to push to find more interesting Titanic stories.“—Mary Kellogg Joslyn, Titanic Museum Attraction
Co-owner, Hotel Vandivort
William Jewell College, B.S. in computer science
There are few things that excite Billy McQueary more than the trajectory of Springfield and its downtown, where his family’s business of four generations was located. Those memories are what stoked his passion for downtown. “Every year there seem to be more pieces of the puzzle to take downtown Springfield to that next level,” he says. Outside of work, the sports-lover enjoys coaching and cheering on his kids as they play soccer, basketball, baseball and more.
NEW IN 2019: Hotel Vandivort’s expansion, V2, officially opened, complete with the Vantage Rooftop Lounge and Conservatory.
Co-owner, Hotel Vandivort
Missouri University of Science & Technology, B.S. in computer engineering
John McQueary worked as a programmer for McQueary Brothers Drug Co. until his family’s business was acquired in 2008. After a few years writing software with his brother, Billy, the pair sought a change of pace. Enter, Hotel Vandivort. “It was hard to stick firm with the vision and not sacrifice vital elements for the sake of budget, but ultimately we felt it was a concept worth the risk,” he says.
NEW IN 2019: Hotel Vandivort’s expansion, V2, officially opened, complete with the Vantage Rooftop Lounge and Conservatory.
Co-owner, Hotel Vandivort
Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), BFA in public communications
Karen McQueary is a public relations expert by training, but, she has developed quite the design eye. After earning a degree in public relations, McQueary worked in marketing at BKD. Now, she helps develop Hotel Vandivort, The Order and Vantage Rooftop Lounge and Conservatory where she focuses on interior design and guest experiences. “Seek your professional passion no matter what your background is,” she advises.
NEW IN 2019: She helped design the expansion of Hotel Vandivort, called V2, which opened in September.
Photo by Amy Pennington
CEO, O’Reilly Hospitality Management, LLC
Westminster College, B.A. in economics with an emphasis in English and political science; University of Missouri–Kansas City, J.D.
Tim O’Reilly is the CEO of O’Reilly Hospitality Management, LLC. That’s in addition to a successful career as an attorney of more than 20 years. O’Reilly comes from a family of business owners, with his great-grandfather and grandfather being the founders of O’Reilly Automotive, Inc. Despite owning a company that expands across the United States, O’Reilly still calls Springfield, where he lives with his family, home.
NEW IN 2019: O’Reilly Hospitality announced the Moxy Hotel in downtown Springfield, opening in 2020.
Foundation & Philanthropy Advisor, Bass Pro Shops
University of Colorado Boulder, B.A. in Sociology and Psychology, University of Washington Evans School, M.A. in Public Administration
Megan Stack, daughter of Bass Pro Shops CEO and founder Johnny Morris, is pioneering her own project as she brings Finley Farms and the Ozark Mills restoration to fruition. “My great-grandfather lived up the road from the old mill,” Stack says. “It’s an honor to preserve the role of the mill in Ozark’s history.” This year, Ozark Farmers Market relocated to the site, and The Workshop- opened, featuring a coffee shop. Still to come: A chapel, a restaurant and more.
President, Silver Dollar City Attractions
Missouri State University (now MSU), B.S. in human resources and marketing, MBA
In Brad Thomas’s 28 years with Silver Dollar City, he’s had his fair share of tough conversations, which he says lead to even better problem solving—but if he needs to decompress, you can find him screaming it out on a coaster. Thomas ensures SDC’s organization is focused on employees, guests and experiences.
NEW IN 2019: Silver Dollar City announced $30 million in upcoming additions including Craft Days & Pumpkin Nights, the addition of a newer, larger Christmas tree for An Old Time Christmas and adding a new River Town area including Mystic River Falls and River Town Smokehouse.
CEO and co-owner of The Track Family Fun Parks
Baylor University, B.B.A. in accounting, M.A. of business administration
Craig Wescott officially took over his father’s business when he returned to Branson in 2000. Since then, Wescott has served on the Branson Board of Education since 2010, served on the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB Board of Directors till 2015, and returned in 2017 as Chairman of the Board. He and his wife, Amy, also currently serve on the Options Pregnancy Clinic Advisory Board.
DID YOU KNOW: Craig Wescott is involved at Harvest Evangelical Free Church and routinely plays music on its worship team. He also has a band, Mile Zero, in which he plays in the Branson area.